Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Life and Times of Digital Science Fiction

So once upon a time I sold a story called Black Sun to a new pro-rate market named Digital Science Fiction, and it appeared in their debut issue, an anthology by the appropriate name of First Contact.  It turned out to be a strong collection, considerably better and more professional than first issues are wont to be.  And so soon after that I sent them a second story, Across the Terminator, which was scheduled to appear in their fifth collection ... until circumstances got in the way and DSF was forced to close its doors.

This was a bad thing.  Not actually directly for me, since I eventually resold the story to Clarkesworld, but nevertheless, in the wider publishing-cosmology sense, a solid piece of bad news all round.  Good, well-paying markets don't exactly grow on trees, and even in a brief space of time DSF had shown itself to be something exciting and valuable.

Then, a few months ago, publisher Michael Wills got in touch to tell me that he was bringing Digital Science Fiction back in a new and improved format, and would I be interested in letting him reprint the story that would have appeared in anthology number five had it happened all those years ago?  Of course I said yes, because money obviously, but also because Michael had always been a pleasure to work with and the whole thing just felt right.  He'd been immensely positive about Across the Terminator back in the day and, as nice as it had been to have it in Clarkesworld (it really was nice) it still somehow felt like DSF was where it belonged.

Since then I've sold a couple more reprints to Michael: The Painted City came out a while back on its own and is now collected as part of the Infinity Cluster collection, out this weekend and on special offer until the end of today.  And Dancing in the Winter Rooms, originally published way back when in Electric Velocipede, is scheduled to appear in the not-too-distant future as a solo e-book and then, some time later, as part of anthology number seven, to be known as Ctrl Alt Delight.

Anyway, putting aside as much as I can the fact that they've published a fair bit of my work, I heartily recommend taking a look at what Digital Science Fiction - and for that matter its brand new sister company Digital Fantasy Fiction - are up to.  I've read all of their output so far and enjoyed, I would say, about eighty percent of it, which is considerably above what I'd normally expect, hard to please git that I am.  There's a definite leaning towards solid storytelling above overbearing style, and yet within that, an impressive range of approaches, subjects and attitudes that keeps any two books from feeling overly alike.  And on top of that, there's an appealing Pokemon-esque quality to the fact that these things are coming out weekly; it's weirdly addictive to keep picking them up, never quite knowing what to expect.

For that matter, I'd also recommend DSF and DFF as markets to fellow authors.  There aren't that many places that will pay for reprints, and there are considerably fewer that will do anything so lavish as putting them out as individual e-books with their own shiny covers.  All told, Digital Science Fiction feels to me like an interesting new corner of the genre publishing world, one excitingly different from anything else out there, and I suspect that if it gets embraced the way it deserves to then it's only going to grow in strength and scope over the next few months.

Oh, and if you should fancy a read of any of the works listed, all titles link to their respective stories / anthologies on Amazon...

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